State of preservation of coins - Moruzzi Numismatica - Ancient coins and banknotes in Rome

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State of preservation of coins

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The condition or grade of preservation of coins

One of the most important aspects when collecting coins is that of recognising the exact condition of coins.
Generally speaking the value of coins increases exponentially especially for the higher grades of condition; it is therefore essential when making a purchase, to know the real condition of the coin. Apart from the aesthetic aspect, different grades of preservation can make an enormous difference in value.
For this reason, it is better when possible to purchase coins with the condition or grade of preservation positively stated, so that it can be checked. Buyers must be careful of sellers on the internet, public auctions or in shops, that do not indicate the condition or grade of preservation.
The scale for grading coins used in Italy is practically the same as the rest of Europe and very similar to that of the United States:

VG = Very Good
Heavy wear on all the coin with about 25% of original detail visible.
F = Fine
Heavy wear on all the coin with about 50% of original detail visible.
VF = Very Fine
Moderate wear with about 75% of detail visible.
EF = Extremely Fine
Little wear with about 95% of original detail visible.
BU = Brilliant Uncirculated
No sign of wear, not even under a powerful microscope, with full mint lustre.

nr = nearly

Abbreviation before the condition when the state of preservation is near but not quite reached.
bt = better than
Abbreviation before the condition when the state of preservation is little better, but not as good as nearly the next grade; e.g. a coin graded bt EF is inferior to a coin graded nr BU

PRF = Proof
A coin that is struck on an especially prepared polished coin dies and planchets. Proofs are usually struck twice, with slower speed but more pressure. The resulting coins usually have a mirror field and raised areas are frosted in appearance. A Proof coin can have circulated and therefore be graded Extremely Fine or Very Fine, but normally the grade "Proof" means a perfect coin that was not meant for circulation.
Many numismatists say that the condition or grade of preservation of coins is merely subjective, we absolutely take objection to this opinion. In order to establish the correct grading of a coin it is necessary to know its method of production, how the coin was struck, how the planchets and dies were made and with what force was used to strike the blank planchet. While observing these premises it is not difficult for a numismatic expert to grade a coin correctly. Buyers should be aware that there are unscrupulous traders that do not observe these codes of conduct and offer over graded coins.
The complex system of the valuation of coins based on grade is much evolved. The old grading of new and used coins has given way to the American system with a scale from 1 to 70.

The Sheldon Grading System
Originally devised to determine the market vales for his catalogue, Early American Cents, New York 1949.
PO-1 identifiable date and type; FR-2 mostly worn, though some detail is visible; AG-3 worn rims but most lettering is readable though worn; G-4 slightly worn rims, flat detail, peripheral lettering nearly full; G-6 rims complete with flat detail, peripheral lettering full; VG-8 design worn with slight detail; VG-10 design worn with slight detail, slightly clearer; F-12 some deeply recessed areas with detail, all lettering sharp; F-15 slightly more detail in the recessed areas, all lettering sharp; VF-20 some definition of detail, all lettering full and sharp; VF-25 slightly more definition in the detail and lettering; VF-30 almost complete detail with flat areas; VF-35 detail is complete but worn with high points flat; EF-40 detail is complete with most high points slightly flat; EF-45 detail is complete with some high points flat; AU-50 full detail with friction over most of the surface, slight flatness on high points; AU-53 full detail with friction over 1/2 or more of surface, very slight flatness on high points; AU-55 full detail with friction on less than 1/2 surface, mainly on high points; AU-58 full detail with only slight friction on the high points; MS/PR-60 no wear, may have many heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full; MS/PR-61 no wear, multiple heavy marks/hairlines, strike may not be full; MS/PR-62 no wear, slightly less marks/hairlines, strike may not be full; MS/PR-63 moderate number/size marks/hairlines, strike may not be full; MS/PR-64 few marks/hairlines or a couple of severe ones, strike should be average or above; MS/PR-65 minor marks/hairlines though none in focal areas, above average strike; MS/PR-66 few minor marks/hairlines not in focal areas, good strike; MS/PR-67 virtually as struck with minor imperfections, very well struck; MS/PR-68  virtually as struck with slight imperfections, slightest weakness of strike allowed; MS/PR-69 virtually as struck with minuscule imperfections, near full strike necessary; MS/PR-70 as struck, with full strike.

State of conservation of coins in various countries

FS

Fondo Specchio

Proof

Proof

Flan Bruni

Polierte Platte     

Proof

FDC

Fior di Conio

Unc.

Uncirculated

Fleur de Coin

Stempelglanz

Flor de Cuño

SPL

Spendida

EF

Extremely Fine

Superbe

Vorzüglich

Extraord. Bien Conservada

BB

Bellissima

VF

Very Fine

Très Très Beau

Sehr Schön

Muy Bien Conservada

MB

Molto Bella

F

Fine

Très Beau

Schön

Bien Conservada

B

Bella

VG

Very Good

Beau

Sehr Gut Erhalten

Regular Conservada

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